If David Lynch is to be believed, then the famous filmmaker is done working on the big screen. It’s hard to find directors nowadays who are universally beloved for their unique style, but anyone even remotely interested in mystery, horror, and experimental narratives has certainly heard of Lynch. The Montana-born auteur burst onto the film scene in 1977 with Eraserhead, a surrealist tale of body horror that quickly captured the midnight movie scene. From there, Lynch went on to direct Elephant Man, Dune, and critical darling Blue Velvet.
After Blue Velvet, Lynch went on to create what many believe is his master work: the 1990 ABC hit TV series Twin Peaks. The show has since spawned a prequel film, an upcoming Showtime revival, and endless intrigue. That success gave Lynch the platform to develop other critically acclaimed features like Mulholland Drive (2001) and Inland Empire (2006). As excitement builds for this month’s revival, thanks to the Twin Peaks teaser footage, the beloved director is back in the spotlight — but it doesn’t look like he intends to stay there for long.
As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, Lynch has no plans to return to feature filmmaking. When asked about Inland Empire during his interview with SMH, Lynch indicates that it will be his last ever feature, largely due to current American filmmaking culture. Lynch said:
“Things changed a lot…So many films were not doing well at the box office even though they might have been great films and the things that were doing well at the box office weren’t the things that I would want to do.”
When asked by reporter Michael Idato whether Inland Empire would definitely be his last film, the director acquiesced to the assumption.
It’s admittedly hard to see a place for Lynch in our current world of wide releases, which have been monopolized by Disney and its subsidiaries (Marvel, Pixar, et al). Of the top ten highest-grossing films of 2016, just two — The Secret Life of Pets and Zootopia — featured original scripts and characters. It’s probably not a coincidence that both of those films are animated, too, since paying animators and voice actors often requires less financial commitment from studios.
And, if that model of filmmaking is actively discouraging visionaries like Lynch, maybe we’re worse off for it. To get an original through the door in the American filmmaking scene these days, you either need to be a recognized name or incredibly lucky. Even if you’re a lucky member of the former camp, your passion project may end up compromising authorial integrity for commercial viability. Creating good independent films makes independent directors more commercially viable, rather than more creatively unlimited; see Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, What We Do in the Shadows) directing Thor: Ragnarok and Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom) writing/directing Star Wars: The Last Jedi. More power to these guys, but these patterns do set a fairly depressing standard for upward mobility in American filmmaking.
Though our current film culture still claims to love independent work, offering plenty of buzz to films like Moonlight and La La Land, creative and financial freedom are less symbiotic than ever. Whether Inland Empire will really be Lynch’s last film remains to be seen — after all, it feels like Quentin Tarantino claims to be done with the business at least once every year — but if it is, can we really blame him? If the Twin Peaks revival is the last we see of Lynch, here’s hoping it’s a well-deserved update to the masterful original series.
Twin Peaks returns May 21 at 9 p.m. EST on Showtime.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald